Lovepac makes incredibly complex ceramic parts

CES 2015: How to make very small holes in ultra-hard materials

Lovepac logoThe most impressive thing Lovepac showed SemiAccurate at CES was a speaker grill. We aren’t kidding, it was far cooler than the ceramic wearable pendant, and much smaller too.

For those of you not up on material science, advanced ceramic injection moulding techniques, and machining of such things, it is actually quite complex and difficult. That is what Lovepac does. At CES the first thing they showed off was a wearable device, in this case a polished triangular ceramic pendant that projected your texts onto a nearby surface when you pressed a button. It was cute, showed that Lovepac is one of the few that understands what to do and what not to do in wearables, and a nice demo device.

If you know anything about material science you know ceramics are quite hard with the Zirconia ceramics Lovepac uses rating in the 7-8 range on the Mohs scale. Even though the end product is quite light, machining a finished product is a royal pain, you need to diamond cur or polish it, a slow and expensive job. In short the closer you can get to the finished product from initial moulding or manufacturing, the better off you are. Fine structures made out of ceramic are, well, really really hard to make.

Assorted Lovepac molded ceramic pieces

Note the watch bezels molded in one piece

As you can see from their spread at CES, Lovepac can make both fine structures and intricate shapes, but don’t overlook the multi-color parts either. As you can see from the watch bezels, Lovepac can make intricate pieces with very tight radii and smooth surfaces. Did we mention in multiple colors? Yeah, I think I did earlier. Yup, just checked. Basically they can do it, but so can a few others. Until you start asking how small one means by small features, things don’t start getting impressive.

Closeup of the Lovepac speaker grill

A phone speaker grill taken from Lovepac’s page

The short answer is small means about .25mm diameter holes in a moulded ceramic part, officially Lovepac can go down to ~.22mm but .25mm is a safe claim. They can make small, tight radius pieces in Zirconia ceramics with borderline crazy tolerances in consumer device ready quantities. That speaker grill that impressed us is at the bottom of the first photo, it is from a cell phone speaker cover. It is small, light, and really strong. A speaker grill may not look high-tech or impressive, but if you know what it takes to make a part like that, all that changes.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate